I am relaying questions to my dad. He Joined the FDNY in 1979 and retired in 2005. He started off in Ladder 120 in Brownsville for 22 years and went to Ladder 102 in Bedford-Stuyvesant when he got promoted to Lieutenant in Feb 2001. He was working the morning of September 11, 2001. Ask him anything pertaining to the FDNY or 9/11. Here is a photo of his badge for proof

edit2* My dad wanted to add, since nobody asked, that the K-9's there were probably the most helpful. They were amazing, they would find these small voids and tell us to start digging. We never found anyone alive but we would at least find some parts. But the K-9's were my favorite

edit* My dad just went to bed, he wants to thank everyone for the support and the questions, answering the questions brought back some memories but he feels better. He also said he will answer all the questions in the thread tomorrow. So you can keep asking.

Comments: 199 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

Lacrez108 karma

Much respect to your father and thank you for all he did/has done.

trgerhpy134 karma

Thank you, I was just doing my job though. A job that I love.

2followsme753 karma

What was the worst thing he saw?

When he was called in, what were his reactions?

How helpful were those organising search efforts?

What's his one regret from that day, something he wished he'd done but didn't. And what's his proudest moment from that day, if any?

Did respect for him and other firefighters change (in his opinion) after the event? Or did things kinda carry on as usual ...

trgerhpy132 karma

He didn't have a reaction. When he was responding he got stuck in the brooklyn battery tunnel and had to walk the entire thing with all the gear. When he got to end the second tower had fallen and it looked like a movie with people running and screaming and dust and debris flying everywhere.

The only people we listened to were our chiefs when searching, we didn't really pay attention to anyone else or other organisations

I don't have any regrets, a lot of companies disregarded the dispatcher and went to the sight immediately and a lot of those companies lost men. I did what i was told, against the wishes of my men, but I didn't get anyone killed

The worst thing was when we dug a civilian out we had to cut him in half to get the torso out and the skull was crushed from ear to ear. Couldnt even tell if it was male or female

Respect changed immediately he couldn't buy a meal or beer, people would give them kisses and things like that.

Phantom_Scarecrow31 karma

Did you know Captain Timothy Stackpole?

trgerhpy45 karma

Yes, I worked with him a couple of times. I knew him and he knew me, but we didn't hang out or anything.

zach299228 karma

How close did you get to Ground Zero that day?

Thank you for all your work. I think this may be the first time I've ever really cried about 911 (I was only 9 at the time) because this is the first time I'm getting first hand stories about it all.

trgerhpy56 karma

After the towers came down, we were right on top of the debris. We were mainly trying to recover bodies and help severely injured people. But as the day went on you only found bodies and not many people alive.

Reddstarrx27 karma

My uncle was a LT in the NYPD he told me when he went to ground zero he heard people falling out of the buildings and slamming into the ground making almost a gun noise..

Do you get nightmares from this?

Do you have any illnesses from this? (Bad Cough ect ect).

What unit were you in?

Did you go into the towers? (If so how high up)

Also, I live on 34th and 1st, On behalf of my family we want to say thank you for everything you and your team has done for our city.

We support the FDNY <3!

trgerhpy33 karma

He didn't make it to the towers before they fell he was exiting the battery tunnel when the second one fell.

He knew a firemen that was killed when a jumper landed on him.

At first he did, he doesn't anymore though. Getting things back to normal helped out a lot.

No illnesses that are directly related. He hurt his shoulder right before he retired in 2005 though. He was a LT at Ladder 102 on Bedford Ave.

DylsPickle25 karma

Does he have a mustache?

Also, thank him for his service.

trgerhpy78 karma

Yes, he was a pretty stereotypical fireman, Irishman with a mustache

Mrwoofwoof23 karma

In retrospect, would you have done anything differently that day?

trgerhpy50 karma

No, I'm glad I didn't disobey orders and go there after the first plane hit. A couple of companies around us did that and a couple of them lost everybody. In retrospect I did my job and followed the orders I was given and it saved my life and the lives of my men. The only thing I regret is not being able to call home for almost 24 hours after the attack. Worried could not describe the feeling my mom and me had that day after not hearing from him until the next day.

[deleted]23 karma


trgerhpy57 karma

Once we got out of the tunnel all the chaos just got to me, I kept saying that this isn't real, it can't be real. I kept thinking this can't happen, not in Manhattan, somewhere else but not here. After that initial shock, I snapped back into it and I didn't have to tell my guys anything, they knew exactly what to do. We just stayed together and tried to rescue survivors, help injured. When we got to a crushed fire truck, there was a firemen that was under the truck dead and we stayed there over an hour trying to get his body out.

cbcfan22 karma

Did anyone find anything valuable in the rubble. Like cash or bonds? Please don't hate me.

trgerhpy57 karma

We really weren't looking for stuff like that, i'm sure we came across some cash but i didn't really pay attention to it. I did hear stories that some people would take wedding rings and jewelry off the dead. I only heard it, but if it is true then it really sickens me.

streakingclown17 karma

Do you feel that the city has provided adequate support for local firemen who were on site? .

trgerhpy29 karma

I honestly would not change a thing. I was a new Lieutenant and all my guys were begging to just go as soon as the first plane hit. Had I been on longer I probably would have just gone. I'm glad I didn't and all my guys made it through. As for the support they had counseling for all the firemen along with all of the families. Leave was granted if asked for, but no one really took it. I could have retired and I thought about it, but I still loved the job so i stayed on until 2005. *edit:I misunderstood him. The staging area was on the brooklyn side of the tunnel, he made it to the staging are and then the first tower fell, He knew the chief so he was the first to get sent through the tunnel, when they got to the end the second tower fell.

rage_buffalo17 karma

Was it an emotional coming home after that day? How did you cope with what you experienced?

trgerhpy90 karma

Big time. I was tired and just wanted to get home. I remember driving home and seeing all the banners thanking us. When I got home, my wife asked what i wanted to do, I wanted to go the movies, we saw Rat Race and i fell asleep because i was so exhausted. I just tried to get everything to return to normalcy.

jesterspet16 karma

Has funding and/or training for the FDNY improved since 2001? if so in what ways.

trgerhpy37 karma

Yes, now we have training on how to respond to terrorist attacks and some better equipment

ckelly32315 karma

What was your first thought when the first tower came down?

trgerhpy34 karma

I was thinking that since the second tower to get hit fell first that the other probably wouldn't come down and that we would be able to save the building and a lot more people.

malikorous15 karma

I wasn't even 10 years old on 09/11/01, but I remember sitting in front of our TV in the UK, unable to comprehend what was going on.

My question is, what kind of training were you given for a potential terrorist attack? Did it even come close to preparing you for what you witnessed on 9/11?

I'd just like to say that you, and all the other men and women who were involved in the rescue and aid of those affected have my greatest and utmost respect.

Thank You.

trgerhpy26 karma

We had almost no training on something of that magnitude. There was no preparation for something like this, Even if something happened again I can't see it being that different. Our job didn't change because of the circumstances, though. We still had search and rescue and that doesn't change

Ghetto_Goblin13 karma

I thank your father for what he has done and I respect him and all his colleagues that were there with him. My question: What was it like? I know it was panicky and stressful and all, but what was it like being there, inside the smoke and buildings. Also was there any damage done to you on that day(physical or mental)?

trgerhpy42 karma

No, damage to me physically. As we were going through the battery tunnel we had to check all compartments and doors for secondary exxplosives. When we got out the second tower fell and there was about a foot of dust on the ground and papers flying everywhere. The dust was like a sandstorm and you could barely see anything. Every so often you would be digging and find usually just a part of body. The good thing about the gear we wore was that it kept the firefighters bodies mostly intact. Civilians that were killed were unidentifiable, but firemen were "encased" in their bunker gear. As we were digging I was just waiting for other building to collapse on top of me. If a building was thought to collapse they would sound a horn and everyone would run away, then we would hear two horn blasts and continue digging. I spent a lot of time just waiting for part of a building to fall and kill me.

grumbledum4 karma

I saw a 9/11 tape, I can't remember which one, but during the search and rescue after the towers collapsed, there were so many beeps from the devices firefighters wear to signal others to them. That sound will be forever engraved in my mind. Much love and respect to you.

trgerhpy4 karma

The beeps are from the PASS devices. The alarms you hear are mostly from abandoned scott bottles and firemen just forgetting to turn them off. I didn't hear any PASS alarms going off that were from trapped firemen, if they were buried it be impossible to hear or it smashed the device

Oralmaster12 karma

Have you had any health problems as a result of the smoke and dust?

trgerhpy29 karma

I can't say, I have inhaled so much smoke and dust over my career that I don't know. In the early years I wouldn't even use a mask sometimes. But right now I don't have any major lung problems.

klauschadman12 karma

At what point, if any, did you have the thought/realization that "this was a deliberate attack?"

trgerhpy30 karma

We were on the roof and as soon as the second plane hit and we knew that it was deliberate.

Savir585011 karma

How big did you guys expect this to be when you got the call? Was it only a few stations responding initially or was everyone called in immediately?

trgerhpy29 karma

We watched it from the roof of the firehouse when the first plane hit. We saw the second plane hit and immediately got the call we knew it was gonna be bad.

[deleted]10 karma

Did he go into either of the towers? If so, what was it like?

trgerhpy16 karma

We couldn't make it to the towers before they fell, there was a staging area we were trying to get to when the towers fell, we tried getting through the battery tunnel and people had abandoned their cars so we had to grab all of our gear and walk through the tunnel which took a long time.

Mattynz10 karma

I hope this doesnt sound disrespectful or anything, but after the attacks was there a shortage of firefighters or police? or did numbers surge?

trgerhpy28 karma

This is actually really interesting. He figures there were 3000 firemen working that day and probably 2000 responded to the trade center. After the initial attack, they would keep the firehouses on the edge of the boroughs manned. There was also an influx of volunteer firemen from upstate and new jersey that helped man the houses that were empty while the firemen worked at ground zero. There were even firemen from California that flew out to volunteer.

Jbbbbb6 karma

How many lives do you think your squad personally saved?

If you could go back in time would you do anything differently?

trgerhpy21 karma

I would say none, Like I said in previous responses, I didn't see a single rescue happen. We were mostly searching for and recovering bodies. I wouldn't have done anything different, you can't have regrets.

pete17296 karma

At what point did you know the shit was really going down. At what instant did you know it was really bad.

Also; thanks for doing the job all the rest of the time. Every time somone's stuck in a burning building, it might as well be 9/11 for them.

trgerhpy12 karma

We got news that a plane had hit and we all went up to the roof to see it, while we were watching the second plane hit and we got the call. I immediately knew it was deliberate. We knew it was gonna be bad. After the first tower fell we thought it couldn't get worse and then the second tower fell as we exited the battery tunnel. It was horrible.

winterazalea5 karma

Thanks for your service! I'm so scared of fire and I wish people would realize how dangerous it is, and how quickly it spreads within a building. Some fire fighters came to our university and showed us videos of how fast a room can catch on fire. Before that, there was an chemical explosion in the chemistry building - I exited the building as soon as I smelled the acrid smoke, but many people stayed inside much longer to finish their lunch, which baffles me.

So i was watching a documentary about the 9/11 attacks and it seems like many people did not react quickly to evacuate because they were scared or in shock, or because they were told over the PA system to stay where they were untill rescue worker s came to get them. So what is the best way to survive if your building is on fire?

How do you stay calm in a situation like that? Do you wait for help or just get out of the building as fast as you can? Like what's the best way to be a cooperative or helpful 'victim' from a fire fighters point of view?

trgerhpy4 karma

If your building is on fire, you get out. Stay away from elevator shafts and take the stairs. If you cant because of fire or smoke try and break a window and let them know where you are and stay close to the ground. When the firefighters reach you just do what they say, If your by a window they will probably use a ladder and if your scared of heights it might be difficult to get down quickly.

TheBagman075 karma

How long did the PASS devices continue to beep after the collapse? Does that tone bother you now? Did you lose your fire truck in the collapse? what was it like handling regular calls in the months afterward? Was there a lot of small debris that you could remove by hand or did you need cranes pretty early on due to the heavy steel beams and such?

trgerhpy5 karma

I couldn't hear any PASS alarms, only if they went off on myself or my guys thats how far they were buried.

No, our truck was at the opening of the battery tunnel

It was fine, we handled them like normal. It was good getting back to normalcy of things.

This is actually his favorite question, The debris was so small there was nothing bigger then a microwave, no file cabinets, no desks, just pieces.

Arteestic15 karma

What do you think of the response the media had to the jumpers? Articles I've read had survivors saying that the sight of people so desperate that they jumped actually encouraged them to evacuate before the second tower was hit, and that their choice to jump saved hundreds of lives.

Yet it became almost taboo to talk about them.

Thank you and all your fellow firefighters for being there, not just that day, but for every day you served.

trgerhpy6 karma

I can't comment on how the jumpers affected the evacuations, but we didn't make it to the towers before they fell so i didn't see/hear any jumpers. But i have seen jumpers throughout my career and it is the worst experience. Just imagine sitting outside of your window 80 stories up and it is so bad behind you that you would rather die. I do know a firefighter that was killed when a jumper landed on him.

djspacebunny5 karma

I posted over in /r/bipolarreddit about my feelings on today. One thing I mentioned was how all of the fire companies down here very suddenly mobilized and tore ass up the turnpike to help their NY brothers and sisters. What was that like for your father and other ems types up there having random companies just upping and leaving home to come help?

I come from a long line of firemen, emt's, and community helpers. I married a firefighter, though his back is too jacked to DO anything anymore. Thank your father for his service, and I hope his health is ok. I've heard so many bad things about the after-effects of ground zero.

trgerhpy2 karma

I thought it was great, the one thing we needed was manpower those days after.

FunkyEMT4 karma

What do you think of the untold story of FDNY EMS? Police/Fire got a lot of recognition, FDNY EMS was mostly silent.

trgerhpy8 karma

Well, to be blunt only 1 EMS guy died and 343 firemen died. Not to say they didn't do an awesome job, but the impact was much harder for us.

Dr_Medic3454 karma

Sir, I was wondering if you know anything about the John J. Harvey. It was a fireboat that helped out when the waterlines went down. If so, my uncle captained that boat.

trgerhpy5 karma

I do know the Harvey it set up in the river and drafted water to us. This is actually pretty common practice for fireboats

Ap0Th34 karma

I hear a lot of the FDNY believes that there were bombs planted inside the building - especially WTC 7 where they told everyone to get out as they said they were, "going to have to pull it".

Can you give me and Reddit some insight?

trgerhpy12 karma

I was in building 7, and all i know is they wanted us out because the building was unstable, it eventually collapsed but i didn't hear explosions. I also believe it WAS NOT an inside job.

MattRichyB4 karma

What was the first thing he thought when he woke up the next day?

trgerhpy6 karma

I don't remember and i don't want to make anything up, sorry

stuffandthat3 karma

What hours did he work? What did he do in the afternoon?

trgerhpy13 karma

He went to work that morning, and didn't come home until the next morning. When he got home he just wanted everything back to normal so we went to the movies.

Stones253 karma

What does your father think of the show Rescue Me, if he has seen it at all?

trgerhpy32 karma

He's never seen it, his favorite "firefighting" movie is Frequency though. Whenever he sees any movie with a fire scene his biggest complaint is the lack of smoke. You cant see anything in a house fire, at least until the roof gets vented. He would tell me if you see a fire and there is a lot of black smoke you should call 911, if you see grayish to white it means there is already water being put on the fire.

cs1323 karma

Did it at all pass your mind at all that the buildings might collapse?

trgerhpy5 karma

Yes, all he thought about after the two towers went down was that the other buildings would come down, he would constantly be looking up while searching just waiting for it to happen.

sugar-snow-snap3 karma

how do you feel on the anniversaries? do you ever think it will get better and then it doesn't? or has it gotten better? do you do anything special for them?

trgerhpy3 karma

It's actually gotten worse, I usually go back up to NY on 9/11. This year i didn't and it actually got worse thinking about it.

jpffrt2 karma

How has training for a firefighter changed since 9/11? Longer training? Different routines? More stress on emergency situations?

Also, you're a very brave guy for saving who you could. You truly are a hero, to both Canadians (like myself) and Americans.

trgerhpy3 karma

Much longer training, they added 2 weeks of terror training alone. We also got better equipment.

Dovina1 karma

Thank you for all you have done in your fire-fighting career It's an honour to have you here. Did the experience change you or do you still feel like the same guy you were before the planes hit? Maybe that is a question for both of you. Is your father the same guy you always knew?

trgerhpy1 karma

He didn't really want to answer this one, but it definitely changed him, it was never diagnosed but im pretty sure he has PTSD and he turned to alcohol to try and solve it, not to bad but definitely interfered with normal family life.

xandersmall1 karma

How much looting was there by the NYPD and FDNY in the days and weeks that followed the attack?

trgerhpy2 karma

I didn't see any from FDNY or NYPD and i don't think any happened from us. Civilians or other agencies i dont know. Anne Coulter ran a story though that said firemen were stealing clothes or something like that and it just pissed me off.

thedude8311 karma


trgerhpy3 karma

We would rotate on and off, so our company would go there for a rotation and dig and then we would be back in the house. You have to remember though that we had a lot of days off, i would only work about 3-4 days a week. So on my days off i would go down and volunteer to help dig. Most guys did this.

lol-i-am-a-banana1 karma

Thanks and respect to your father for showing bravery that day, it takes true honor.

What affect did 9/11 have on how your father viewed firefighting and the like?

trgerhpy2 karma

It was under appreciated until then, we do the same thing everyday on a smaller scale. We always go into shitty buildings that sometimes do collapse, its just that on this day it was on a much bigger scale.

gkiltz-2 karma

On the plus side, you probably got an early promotion out of it!

trgerhpy2 karma

No early promotion, I spent 22 years as a firemen choosing not to get promoted, because i loved it. I only decided to get promoted once i saw my career winding down, I retire a Lieutenant.